Komodo hosts a unique species and maritime culture, writes IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER
For centuries, traditional phinisi boats were used for transport, fishing and raiding around the Indonesian archipelago, and to explore as far south as Australia and as far north as Vietnam.
Twin-masted schooners with elongated bowsprits and seven sails, made from ironwood by the seafaring Bugis people of South Sulawesi with cues cribbed from Portuguese and Dutch colonial ships, phinisis’ design has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
During World War II, steel ships with diesel engines replaced Indonesia’s fleet of wooden boats.
And there the phinisi would have died if not for South-East Asia’s tourism boom. Nearly 16 million people visited Indonesia last year, 10 per cent specifically for marine tourism.
From this colourful backstory comes a new breed of phinisi that allows tourists to cruise between the 17,504 islands of Indonesia in vessels that look like they belong in the 16 century but come outfitted with 21st century comfort and technology.
The fleet’s mainstay lies at Labuan Bajo on the mainland island of Flores, an hour’s flight from Bali — gateway to the world-famous Komodo National Park. Phinisis don’t come cheap. They cost upwards of a million dollars to build and need crews of five to 20 people to sail.
Chartering a phinisi costs thousands per day and is out of reach for most holidaymakers.
But when a group of friends or a few families pool their money, the exercise becomes affordable — and quite worthwhile...
This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.
A message from Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield...
Thanks for reading us – we value your continuing interest and our connection with you.
But as our readers increasingly move to digital, we have to keep up with them.
As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, there are costs involved in doing what we do for you.
To support Travel, reading the full story now requires a digital subscription (it’s $1 a day for full access to thewest.com.au, for all your devices).
If you have the newspaper home delivered, you may already have complimentary premium access to thewest.com.au and our digital editions.
And we have other packages, including $9 a week for the weekend papers and everyday digital.
You may also like
Boost your immunity
STEPHEN SCOURFIELD looks at how to keep viral infections at bay
The Pod Well Travelled Episode 1
In their first podcast for 2020, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield and his team look ahead to a New Year packed with stories, tours, events, workshops and more
Life’s a beach in Margs for Natalie
When it comes to travelling in WA, Natalie Gruzlewski turns to the Margaret River region, for its blend of nature, adventure and indulgence.
And the presenter of the hugely successful series Farmer Wants a Wife reckons it has some of the best beaches in the world.